21 Iyar 5783 – 12 May 2023
וְכִֽי־יָמ֥וּךְ אָחִ֛יךָ עִמָּ֖ךְ וְנִמְכַּר־לָ֑ךְ לֹא־תַעֲבֹ֥ד בּ֖וֹ עֲבֹ֥דַת עָֽבֶד׃
If your brother becomes destitute, even though he is living with you and you are commanded not to let him become destitute, and he is indentured to you as a bondmand, you must nevertheless not work him with labor that makes him appear to be a bondman, i.e., publicly degrading work such as carrying your clothes behind you in public or putting your boots on you in public.
One of the seven Noahides Commandments is to care for a just society. In a just society, no one can become destitute. Everyone gets the reward for his participation in society that should enable him to live a decent life.
However, as before, there are those who are destitute. In earlier times, one could then become a bondmen of someone else, nowadays a person gets a benefit and can appeal to social institutions. In the Netherlands, these include the food bank and clothing bank. It is shameful that a society cannot take care of all its inhabitants and that places where food and clothes are given are needed. While it is good that such institutions exist, in the lie of the above verse, it is questionable. What does it do to a person’s self-image if he has to go to a physical place to get food and clothing. A place, when you go there, everyone can see that you depend on the help of others. What does shame do to a person?
Research shows that there is a strong link between shame and negative self-esteem. A negative self-image makes people go into a negative spiral where they increasingly avoid their social environment, which can lead to social anxiety disorder. Thereby, a negative self-image often leads to depression.  Depression leads to people literally having less energy to take up things, not experiencing joy, no longer enjoying life.
This text from today shows us that it is our responsibility that people do not find themselves in situations where they become needy, and should they already become needy, it is our job not to put them in situations that could bring them to shame with all the negative consequences that would result.
The danger of depression is that people also question or even minimize their contact/relationship with G-d, as we can read in Likutey Moharan 1, 72 :
Depression is a terrible scourge. It feeds the evil inclination. You shoud always take care to work on yourself to bring joy into your soul. There are many good ways of doing this, as will be explained later. Joy is the foundation of spiritual strenght, as it is written, “For delight in G-d, that is your strength”. (Nehemia 8:10)
By Angelique Sijbolts
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